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House Judiciary & Committee on House Administration Democrats File Amicus Brief Opposing Texas Governor’s Order Limiting Ballot Drop-Off Boxes

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), along with all Democratic Members of both Committees, filed an amicus brief opposing Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order limiting the number of mail in voting drop-off boxes to one per county. The executive order, which was issued one month before Election Day, will disproportionately impact populous cities, the elderly and individuals with disabilities, which have been most affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The amicus brief makes clear that Governor Abbott’s one-polling-center-per-county rule imposes a “rigid, arbitrary formula to sparsely settled counties and populous counties alike” and cannot be squared with the Constitution’s guarantee of “equality among citizens in the exercise of their political rights.” Additionally, the brief states it is the responsibility of the courts to protect the right to vote, especially given the extraordinary circumstances of this case in which the Governor acted at the very last minute in a manner that upended the electoral process to shutter polling places in the state’s most populous counties. The amicus brief was prepared by Elizabeth B. Wydra, Brianne J. Gorod and David H. Gans with the Constitutional Accountability Center.

“The right to vote in a free and fair election, and the right to have our votes counted, lies at the very core of our democracy,” said Chairman Nadler. “The last-minute effort by Governor Abbott to limit the amount of ballot boxes per county- which will make it harder for Texans to cast their vote amid the COVID-19 global health crisis- is a blatant attack on this fundamental right. The House Judiciary Committee will continue to fight against voter suppression tactics across the nation, and to protect the sacred right to vote for all Americans.”

“An election that forces voters to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot is not a free and fair election,” said Chairperson Lofgren. “Governor Abbott’s unreasonable order to limit ballot drop off locations to one per-county will disproportionally suppress voting options and access to the ballot for millions of Texans. This last-minute mandate in the midst of a deadly pandemic is not only ill-considered, but it poses a danger to the health and well-being of Americans seeking to safely exercise their right to vote.”

On October 1st, Texas Governor Abbott issued an executive order limiting mail-ballot drop-off locations to one per county. In response to a lawsuit brought by several civil rights and voting rights groups, a federal district judge blocked the Governor’s directive. The state of Texas immediately appealed the ruling, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has granted a temporary administrative stay.

Members of the Judiciary Committee who joined the amicus brief include Representatives Lofgren, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Karen Bass (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Val B. Demings (D-FL), Lou Correa (D-CA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX).

Members of the Committee on House Administration who joined the amicus brief include Representatives Raskin, Susan Davis (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA).

The full text of the amicus brief can be found here.

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